Review: Smoked Duck & Traditional Malay Favourites @ Zaini Salai House, Kampung Ulu Bendol, Negri Sembilan

For travelers plying the Kuala Pilah – Seremban route, Zaini Salai House is a household name, having been around for more than seven years. The simple open-air warung is bereft of air conditioning, but the beautiful view of paddy fields and lush emerald hills just across the road more than makes up for it.

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The restaurant is known for its itik salai (smoked duck), a 30-year-old recipe the proprietor, Zaini, learnt from his grandfather that has been handed down the generations. The tedious process, which involves smoking the duck at a distance of about three or four feet away from the fire, takes up to four hours (sometimes more!) Smoking was used in the old days to preserve the meat, as there was no refrigeration back then.

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We were invited to sample a variety of dishes, including the famous duck cooked in masak lemak cili api (coconut milk curry with birds eye chilli), rendang pucuk paku and beef with bamboo shoots. While tasty, everything was a tad too spicy for my Chinese palate, except for the cabbage which was in a mild, milky sauce lol. The flavours were good though, and the duck dish lived up to its reputation.

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For dessert, there was ABC topped with a generous chunk of durian, cendol, red rubies and sweet corn on a bed of shaved ice and condensed milk with gula melaka (palm sugar).

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And pulut tapai. A little ashamed to admit that in 28 years of life, I’ve never had one of these before. They’re essentially fermented glutinous rice cakes with a sweet aftertaste. Goes well with the Cendol/ABC dessert.

If you’re looking for unpretentious, hearty traditional food, Zaini’s Salai House is a stop you shouldn’t miss while on the way down to Seremban or up to KL!

ZAINI’S SALAI HOUSE 

No. 33A Kampung Ulu bendul, 71500 Tanjung Ipoh, Negeri Sembilan

Open for breakfast / lunch: 830AM – 6PM (daily)

facebook.com/ZainiSalaiHouse/

Breakfast With A View: D’Sawah Breakfast @ Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan

D’Sawah Breakfast in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan has something that even five-star fine-dining establishments can’t offer – a beautiful view, paired with simple, tasty food, and warm service – the genuine kind that you only find in small towns, where life is laid back and there’s no such thing as a rat race.

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The shop, located next to the main road, is a simple wooden shack next to paddy fields, with emerald green hills stretching as far as the eye can see. We were fortunate during our visit, as the fields were a verdant sea of green, swaying in the breeze underneath clear blue skies. Coming from the city, it was a refreshing breath of fresh air to see such lovely views, and the sight really eases your mind from everyday stresses and worry.

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No air conditioning – just the natural breeze and a couple of ceiling fans. The food is simple but hearty  – nasi lemak, noodles, assorted kuih and roti canai.

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I was so taken by the sight of the paddy fields that I forgot to take pictures of the food except for the kuih, lol.

(left) Kuih talam – the bottom part is pandan and the top is coconut milk. (right) Kuih sagu, made from sago and rolled in shredded coconut.

For breakfast I had roti canai, which was fluffy and crispy on the edges, served with generous amounts of dhal and sambal. Nothing much to say – just good, tasty food.

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D’Sawah is extremely popular with bikers on weekends as they travel from KL to Kuala Pilah/Seremban and further down south. Prices are extremely reasonable. If you want a taste of the simple, laid back life then defo stop by! They only operate four hours a day, so come early to avoid disappointment.

KODAI SARAPAN D’SAWAH 

22, Jalan Kuala Pilah, Kampung Solok Paku, 70400 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Opening hours: 7 AM – 11AM (daily)

KP Tong Hong Restaurant, Bandar Bukit Puchong – Kuala Pilah Food

Moo was introduced to a restaurant in Bandar Bukit Puchong by her colleague. Tucked in a quiet corner is KP Tong Hong Restaurant, which apparently specialises in Kuala Pilah food from the central state of Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. 

One of their signature dishes is the Park Far Chicken. Amusing name for an interesting dish. It’s basically deboned chicken that has been stuffed with fish paste at the bottom and deep fried, served with sweet Thai chilli sauce. The skin was really crunchy and the dish was salty goodness, with the nice, bouncy texture of fish paste layered below flaky chicken, but it left me very thirsty afterwards. #sodiumoverload

Stir fried sambal sotong (squid). The sambal was mild and not really spicy at all, but the squid was cooked well and the flavours were good.

Spinach soup. So-so. Too much spinach, not enough soup. xD

Their other famous signature dish is the pork rib pie; unfortunately we didn’t manage to taste that coz we already had the chicken and it felt like too much for a meal for four.

The food is decent and our bill came up to RM60 (we also ordered a stir fried sweet potato leaves dish), which was reasonable imo.

KP Tong Hong Restaurant
No. 40, Jalan BP 6/13,
Bandar Bukit Puchong 2,
47100 Puchong, Selangor,
Malaysia
Tel: +60 16-213 8060

Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm daily
Closed on Thursdays.